In an encyclical letter, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Mar Ignatius Ephrem II has voiced his concern that refugees who are forced to leave their homes in Syria will maintain their religious and cultural identity when they travel to the Western world.

The Christian culture of the Middle East is “undoubtedly different from the one they find in the West,” the Syrian prelate wrote. He said that he hoped refugees would be able to preserve their traditions. He wrote: “We also need to work on reconciling many aspects of our culture with that of the Western society without being affected by Western atheism and secularism which may clash with our Christian values.”

In his encyclical letter the Syrian Patriarch protested the discrimination that some Christians migrants have suffered. He cited “cases of persecution based on religious differences within the refugee camps of Europe.”